Looking to get back into the win column, the University of Wisconsin Women’s Basketball team (11-12, 2-7 Big Ten) eyes a Sunday afternoon matchup with the Illinois Fighting Illini (9-13, 1-10).
As the bottom feeders of the Big Ten Conference, both teams have a chance to snatch a coveted conference win in Sunday’s matchup.
The Illini’s lone Big Ten win came Jan. 6 against Minnesota. Since the victory, Illinois has dropped eight straight games just coming up short by an average of 12.6 points per game.
The Badgers struggled to turn momentum from their exciting win against Nebraska into wins. But they have shown flashes of successes that give Head Coach Jonathan Tsipis hope to deliver some wins, especially after having extra rest this week.
“[It’s] a chance for our kids to get away a little bit … so we can be most prepared to head into Illinois on Sunday,” Tsipis said in a news conference.
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The Illini’s two-headed offensive attack of Alex Wittinger and Brandi Beasley resembles the Badgers’ similar duo of Marsha Howard and Imani Lewis.
Wittinger and Beasley score 15.2 and 11.8 points per game respectively. Containing senior Wittinger has been quite a challenge for the Badgers since her freshman year.
In her four meetings with Wisconsin, Wittinger has reached at least 16 points in each contest.
Wisconsin should be able to dominate the boards as Illinois ranks last in the Big Ten in rebounding during conference play. Wittinger is their leading rebounder with 7.9 rebounds a game. No other player averages more than four boards a game.
If Wisconsin can bottle up Wittinger, their winning ways from the non-conference schedule should return.
Wisconsin continues to lean on Howard as she leaves her last mark on the Wisconsin Women’s Basketball program.
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Her previous game against Michigan was arguably the best of her career. Howard rattled off 30 points, snatched nine rebounds and went 11 for 15 from the free throw line — which has troubled her all year.
Offense wasn’t the problem for the Badgers against Michigan as they eclipsed 70 points. But, the team needs contributions outside of Howard and Lewis in order to scratch across wins from pesky Big Ten teams.
Another key focus for Wisconsin is limiting big runs and playing smart basketball on both ends of the court. Tsipis mentioned the team’s inability to perform on both sides of the ball.
“We did a really good job on the glass, we took better care of the basketball, [but] we didn’t do the job on the other end,” Tsipis said.
The Badgers will look to put together a more balanced attack and take down the Illini in Champaign, Illinois Sunday. The game will take place at 3 p.m. and can be watched on Big Ten Network Plus.